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Monday, May 27, 2013

World War II study: Atheists in foxholes?

1958 Foxhole Fighting (Public Domain)
Although there may very well have been some atheists entering World War II foxholes, chances are that a number of them came out praying.

Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service reports on a new study by brothers Craig Wansink of Virginia Wesleyan College and Brian Wansink of Cornell University.  This study included "data collected from U.S. Army service members in the Pacific in 1944 and from surveys the authors sent to surviving veterans more than 50 years later."

Study results indicated that prayer was a better motivator for getting through the tough aspects of military service than "several other factors, including the broader goals of the war."  The frequency of subsequent church attendance was particularly high with those veterans whose World War II experiences were particularly negative.

Craig Wansink stated:  The most important thing is that the more veterans disliked the war, the more
religious they were 50 years later.  Study statistics also showed the following:  As fear increased during
combat, the amount of prayer rose by 30%, and 69% of those later surveyed are now church members who
attend services more than three times per month.

Brian Wansink concluded that religious involvement could therefore help to heal the overall wounds of war.
He explained:  One reason it may have been so effective in the past is that religion is a very social experience…  That might be missing from current strategies in helping recent soldiers cope with stress.


Copyright May 27, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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